Manny Pacquiao celebrates his victory over Brandon Rios at the Venetian hotel in Macau. Photo by Tyrone Siu, Reuters
How many of you heaved a sigh of relief after that first round? I did.
Did I find Brandon Rios a credible threat against Manny Pacquiao? Not that much. I always felt he was a one-dimensional fighter. That means slim pickings for someone with skills.
Nevertheless, as it was with Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, there’s a possibility of a loss no matter how infinitesimal. A third straight loss and Pacquiao will be off to retirement and another footnote about an athlete who should have called it a day when he was on top of the world.
And if there is anything that those two previous losses taught Manny and every boxing fan out there, it's that a fighter should never let it go to the scorecards and to always keep his guard up.
After Manny Pacquiao took that shot from Brandon Rios in the opening round, it was an oh-oh moment. Manny shook it off. Even after that fifth round where Rios landed some blows, it looked like Manny had taken Rios’ best shots while he still had much more to serve.
In that loss to Marquez, Manny’s power and speed was there. It was all forgotten in the wake of that gruesome knockout.
Against Rios, Manny reminded everyone of how he’s ruled the boxing world since 2008. That frightening speed and punching power was on display. And now Rios knows what Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito felt when they got a facial that even Vicky Belo would be hard pressed to fix.
Manny landed 281 punches to the 138 of Rios and much of what the American threw lacked conviction. That’s more than double!
So much for reach that can be such an overrated category in the tale of the tape. Can’t hit what you can’t catch!
It has been a while since Pacquiao has tenderized an opponent (Margarito was the last). He did hurt Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez who always takes a beating (even in that win of his). Even Tim Bradley looked like he went through the grinder.
Rios did stay on his feet after 12 rounds, but I don’t think for one minute that Manny has lost something even if he wasn’t able to knock him out. It’s just that these fighters he’s been matched up with do not easily go down. He’s met quite a few of them from years ago. Does David Diaz ring a bell? Oscar dela Hoya? Erik Morales?
Not everyone goes down in a heap like Ricky Hatton.
And at the end of it all, Brandon Rios was brutalized by Manny Pacquiao for target practice. Sure, he tried to taunt the Pacman and kept coming. I am hesitant to chalk that up to guts because he had his face rearranged.
Furthermore, what Rios should have done as he was behind in the cards was to attack. Instead he offered his face as a target and Manny obliged.
Of late, the Philippines has taken a beating from an earthquake and some killer typhoons (not to mention being bullied by a pair of neighbors). It was good to see a man – albeit a champion thought to be on the ropes -- who has been down on his luck do some butt kicking of his own.
In a time of great difficulty where our resolve and that of our government’s is being severely tested, a win like this not only boosts Manny’s own confidence that he isn’t washed up but also of that of our country’s. Talk about taking a beating and remain standing. That’s the Filipino spirit.
Manny’s victory is huge. After Gilas Pilipinas qualified for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Manny’s win – his 55th in 62 fights – is a perfect year ender (along with our campaign in the Southeast Asian Games) for Filipinos everywhere.
And for what it’s worth, it’s good to see Manny Pacquiao back and try to leave on his own terms.